Sunday, 24 March 2013

A Tribute To Roger Corman

A Tribute To Roger Corman

After all these years of movie viewing, one can almost watch a particular film of a particular genre and say, “Yep, that’s a Corman!” For me this is particularly true in the case of Roger Corman’s involvement and influence in the genre of science fiction film.

Roger William Corman

  • Born: 5 April 1926, Detroit, Michigan, USA
  • Studied engineering at Stanford.
  • After working only three days as an engineer at U.S. Electrical Motors he quit.
  • Corman took a job as a messenger for 20th-Century Fox.
  • Rose to the position of story analyst.
  • Studied modern English literature at Oxford and roamed around Europe for a year.
  • Returned to the U.S. intending to become a screenwriter/producer.
  • Corman sold his first script in 1953, "The House in the Sea," which was released under the title “Highway Dragnet” in 1954.
  • Aware of the discrepancy between his initial intention or vision behind his film and what actually turned out on the screen, Corman turned to becoming a producer with the film, “Monster from the Ocean Floor” in 1954.
  • Corman then struck a deal with a company called American Releasing which became the well-known American International Pictures (AIP). Corman was now part of one of the most successful independent studios.
  • Lacking any real formal training, Corman took to directing and over a 15 year period directed about 53 films, mostly for AIP.
  • Corman’s movie-making “trademark” was his uncanny ability to put together quick, cheap productions sometimes even several movies in his capacity as director or producer or both in just a single year! For example, nine movies in just 1957, not to mention the original version of The Little Shop of Horrors which he shot in just two days and a night in 1960!
  • Both critical acclaim and commercial success came with a series of adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe stories, often starring (who else?) Vincent Price.
  • Corman’s 1962 film, The Intruder concerning racial integration in the South won a prize at the Venice Film Festival, but it was not a commercial success. As a result, he shied away from making films containing overt or direct messages, in favour of films that were entertaining while leaving the social and political issues to filter through beneath the surface.
  • Corman left AIP after it began re-editing his films without his knowledge or consent and he retired from directing to focus on production and distribution through his own newly-formed company New World Pictures. This company went on to deal with low budget films through to distributing the films of the likes of Ingmar Bergman, Akira Kurosawa, Federico Fellini and François Truffaut.
  • After selling off New World in the 1980s, Corman was involved with various companies such as, Concorde Pictures, New Horizons, and Millenium Pictures.
  • Corman has published his biography "How I Made A Hundred Movies in Hollywood And Never Lost A Dime,” and returned to directing with the film, Frankenstein Unbound in 1990.
  • In 2009, Roger Corman was honoured with an Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement.

It seems that Roger Corman could be viewed from a variety of stand points, among them being;
  • A prolific producer
  • Energetic
  • Frenzied pace-setter
  • Successful
  • "The King of the Cult Film"
  • "The Pope of Pop Cinema"
  • Mentor of greats such as Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Jack Nicholson, James Cameron, Robert De Niro, Peter Bogdanovich, Joe Dante and Sandra Bullock

Whatever the case may be, Roger Corman has never pretended to have been a great director or producer. It seems clear that his intent has been to create profitable and successful films that people will enjoy watching, hopefully more than once. I know I have! And here are some of those films by the maestro, Roger Corman that will be featured in this blog;

  • The Daythe World Ended 1956 (Director, Producer: Roger Corman's entree into the realm of science fiction.)
  • It Conquered the World 1956 (Director, Producer)
  • Attackof the Crab Monsters 1957 (Director, Producer)
  • The Brain Eaters 1958 (Executive Producer)
  • War of the Satellites  1958 (Director, Producer)
  • Attack of the Giant Leeches 1959 (Executive Producer)
  • The Man with X-Ray Eyes 1963 (Director, Producer)

Enjoy this film clip featuring Roger Corman;

©Chris Christopoulos 2013

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